Flu jab – yes or no?

Are you going to have the flu jab this winter? Firstly, let me make it clear that there is nothing new or different about this year’s flu vaccine compared to last years, other than the blend of viral strains in the mix. It does not contain a coronavirus component.


Last year’s flu jab was 44% effective across all ages. This means that, quoting the government’s release “the flu vaccine offered to those eligible for immunisation this season, reduced the likelihood of visiting the GP because of flu by approximately 44%.” [source:  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vaccine-for-older-adults-gives-significant-protection-against-flu] This is because flu jabs can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. However, there is never any mention of adverse effects.

These observational studies, quoting an article in the British Medical Journal headed ‘Doubletalk hides serious problems with flu shot safety and effectiveness’ says “They do not mention that these studies make no effort to look for adverse vaccine effects (e.g. narcolepsy, seizures, high fever, oculorespiratory syndrome). They do not mention “negative vaccine effectiveness”, the increase in risk of illness from influenza and non-influenza viruses associated with (or caused by) the vaccines. They do not mention that a vaccine “effective” in one season may increase influenza risk in a subsequent season.” In the UK it’s virtually impossible to get any reliable data on numbers relating to adverse effects but they certainly do occur.

One indication of concern is what health workers, who both deal with people with flu and adverse effects do and we must assume, are reasonably well informed. Last year flu vaccination rates in UK health-care workers dropped from 77% in 2020–21 to 61% in 2021–22 [Source: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(22)00503-5/fulltext]

More than a third of health care workers do not have the flu jab. I’m in that category largely because I know that high dose vitamin C at the immediate onset of cold or flu symptoms, reduces duration and severity of flu symptoms often to 24 max 48 hours. A comprehensive review of vitamin C shows up to 46% reduction in duration of colds, and also reduction in severity, reported in those taking 8 grams of vitamin C in the first day of a cold/flu, although there is some evidence than 15-20 grams within 24 hours of first symptoms would be more effective [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409678/]. This is what I do, and recommend, taking around 1 gram an hour, or 2 grams every two hours. If your vitamin C also has zinc and black elderberry, like ImmunceC, it is likely to be even more effective. I very much doubt flu would ever be fatal if all ‘at risk’ eg elderly people did this on first signs of symptoms.

The other critical factor is getting your blood vitamin D up above 100nmol/l by taking 3,000iu a day (see recent blog). The Grassroots Health study reports a 43% reduction in flu-like illness between those with blood vitamin D levels of 50 versus 150nmol/l. That’s about the same level of effectiveness of a vaccine.

But I entirely respect someone who chooses to, perhaps because they are older, more vulnerable, with more compromised immune systems or/and don’t trust or don’t know about vitamin C and how to use it in high doses or don’t know about vitamin D and has a low level.

The flu vaccine, if enough people take it, won’t create herd immunity. The ‘herd immunity’ argument – that if everyone is vaccinated the disease (for example, smallpox) can be eradicated – does not apply to the flu vaccine because the influenza virus is endlessly mutating into different forms. One could argue that, if all were vaccinated flu might spread less, but this would need to be demonstrated.

The same, of course, would apply to everybody taking vitamin C and D. Another argument is that the flu vaccine would take the load off the NHS. Firstly, it takes doctors and nurses to deliver vaccines so their time gets used up.  Also, the contracting GP practice gets paid £9.52 per person vaccinated [source: https://psnc.org.uk/national-pharmacy-services/advanced-services/flu-vaccination-service/flu-vaccination-funding-claiming-and-payment/]. So that’s a chunk of NHS budget spent as well.

If the goal was to take the burden off the NHS then getting everyone’s vitamin D levels up, and recommending daily vitamin C supplementation, and high dose vitamin C supplementation when infected would be easier and cheaper and, I’m proposing, likely to be more effective.